Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Tom Scharpling's Grown Ups 3 script explores the agony and the ecstasy of Adam Sandler

Illustration for article titled Tom Scharplings iGrown Ups 3 /iscript explores the agony and the ecstasy of Adam Sandler
Photo: Kevin Winter (Getty Images)

The Adam Sandler Decides To Give A Shit Shift is a well-documented and understood phenomenon at this point, with the former Saturday Night Live star occasionally deciding—at the whims of some dark and mysterious internal clock—to unleash his considerable stores of manic, eye-catching energy in service of something capital-G good. The most recent instance of this phenomenon is, of course, the Safdie’s Uncut Gems, in which Sandler channels his talent for making people want to slap him, constantly, into one of the most gut-roiling sustained burns in recent memory.

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There’s an occasional frustration that grows out of these periodic dips into Quality Land, though, too, a knowledge that Sandler often chooses to not deploy his significant dramatic chops in movies like, say, Grown Ups. (Or Grown Ups 2. Or Pixels. Or I Now Pronounce You Chuck And Larry. Or pretty much any of his non-Noah Baumbach Netflix films.) That paradox is at the core of comedy legend/cartoon car wash operator Tom Scharpling’s new script for Grown Ups 3, which probably won’t end up being used for any prospective sequels, but is still worth a read nevertheless.

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The genius of Scharpling’s version of GU3 is that he takes the time to get the voices of each of his “characters” right; it’s incredibly easy to imagine Kevin James, David Spade, and Chris Rock trotting out these slightly-tired, meta-laden one-liners while bumbling their way across the screen. At the same time, Scharpling takes measured shots, both at Sandler’s perceived laziness, as well as the critical consensus on said laziness: If Sandler won’t embrace his inner talent for tragedy on his own, well… Maybe the process can be helped along? The end result feels bizarrely plausible; someone should send it on to Sandler, for the next time his Make A Good Movie sense starts to ping.

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